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Super Air History

Back in 1981, 1.25m tonnes of fertiliser was sown on NZ farms by aircraft.  Just two years later the government of the day removed fertiliser subsidies.  A year later approx 275,000 tonnes were sown.  Many farmers and indeed aerial operators went out of business. 

A few years later, in 1987, to secure their future, Mike Keen of King Country Air Services along with Counties Aerial Work, Waikato Air Services, Rayair, Williams Aerial Services and Whakatane Air Spreaders approached the then BOP Fertiliser Coop (now Ballance Agri-Nutrients) to buy shares in the collective assets of these aerial companies.  At that time, BOP had only one plant at Tauranga and a distribution area covering Pukekohe, Te Kuiti, Taupo and Rotorua.  It then bought the Fernz operation in the Waikato. 

In August 1988, the top dressing industry was
at its lowest ebb and many operators were forced out of business.  In order to provide sustainability for the sector when times got better, Ballance Agri-Nutrients (BOP) bought 70% of what was to be, Super Air.  Ballance’s involvement ensured the industry ‘’weathered the storms’’ during the lean years of farming. 

During those lean years, Super Air operated in Malaysia and Indonesia until it sold both ventures in 2001 to concentrate on the New Zealand agriculture and forestry sowing and spraying.

Today Super Air is wholly owned by Ballance and has over 50 staff and 18 aircraft, most of which are based on the original New Zealand mainstay of top dressing, the Fletcher airframe.  In fact, the first Fletcher aircraft, built in 1954, is still owned by Super Air. 

At our Hamilton airport base, our skilled team of aircraft engineers maintain the entire Super Air fleet as well as maintaining other top dressing companies’ aircraft. The Super Air aircraft engineers are constantly developing aircraft innovations and improving technologies.  In the past few years we have converted 21 Fletchers to Walter turbine aircraft for both agricultural and parachuting roles.  We have also recently converted 2 of our fleet to  PT6 turbine aircraft. 

Our Truck engineering facility maintains the existing fleet of truck loaders and builds new loaders onto new truck chassis.  Loaders have been steadily improved over the years through constant innovation by our on site truck engineers.

World First at Super Air

Zulu Kilo Bravo Delta Sierra (ZK-BDS) was the world’s first Fletcher FU-24 top dresser.  A prototype designed specifically for New Zealand conditions, it took to the skies with its first fertiliser load on 11 October 1954 powered by a 225 horsepower engine.  It was the only Fletcher operated with an open cockpit, and between 28 March and 18 April that year it spread 1008 tonnes of Super, before being taken around the country on a demonstration tour.  A brief history of our industry can be found on the techhistory site.

Old BDS was the first of Super Air’s fleet to be re-powered by a 550 HP Walter M601D engine. 

For all your Aerial Spreading needs phone
0800 SUPERAIR   (0800 787372)

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